X-POSITION: Duane Swierczynski on "Cable"

Tue, March 11th, 2008 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

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FIRST LOOK: "Cable" #4

Some people are born ready for parenthood; others have it thrust upon them by circumstance and endeavor to make the best of the situation. The latter is certainly the case for Cable, who is stuck with the mutant baby "savior" as a result of the explosive "Messiah CompleX."

Hopping through the timestream, Cable must raise and protect this infant girl, as he believes the child will save the mutant race from extinction. Unfortunately, Bishop is hot on their trail -- with beliefs that are completely opposite of Cable's

Can you see where all this is headed?

Released last week by Marvel Comics, "Cable" #1 also revealed to readers the results of Predator X's attack on Bishop – he and Cable now have matching his & his cybernetic arms. Obviously, there are loads of questions about all that has occurred, but that's what X-POSITION is here for! That, plus premiering exclusive new artwork, including pages from "Cable" #2 and the cover for issue #4!

The writer of "Cable" is Duane Swierczynski, best known for his novels "The Wheelman" and "The Blonde," and he's joining us today to field your queries. It's his first time responding to emails directly from the fans, so we're going to ease him gently into the X-POSITION routine starting with a few questions from us before diving into your many queries.

Story continues below

To begin with, Duane, could you explain what the new "Cable" series is about? With Cable walking the Earth – or timestream, as the case may be – with a baby in tow, the book has been described as a sort of modern mutant take on the classic manga "Lone Wolf and Cub."

Oh, yeah, there's definitely a "Lone Wolf and Cub" vibe going on, but with one big difference. In "Lone Wolf," there's an obvious father-child bond. It's there in that first moment you hold your child, and you realize you'd take a bullet for him/her – no questions asked.

"Cable" #2 on sale in April
Cable, though, isn't the baby's biological father. Right now, their bond is little more than a mission objective. It's a job to do. That will change over time though, and that was the real appeal of writing this series. Aside from the violence, weapons and time travel.

Can a stoic bad-ass like Nathan Summers learn how to be a dad? And will opening himself up to that leave him vulnerable in other areas – maybe even at the risk of his mission?

We know Cable took the "Messiah" baby to keep her safe, but what is the endgame? Does he need to train this baby like a young John Connor from "The Terminator" and eventually return to the present? Is her destiny in the future? And is Bishop the biggest threat to the baby at the moment?

The thing about the baby is that no one – not Cyclops, not the rest of X-Men – really knows for sure that she's the Messiah, or what her destiny will be. Cable thinks he knows, and Bishop [thinks he] does, too. Problem is, Cable and Bishop disagree, um, **wildly** about her destiny.

So yeah, right now, Bishop is the biggest threat to the baby. But the leap of faith that Cyclops took at the end of "Messiah CompleX" (giving the baby to his son Cable) is also going to be problematic, as you'll see.

With all the time-hopping that Cable and Bishop have been through, how do you keep track of when and where each character has been?

I've been keeping a separate file of notes tracking their movements, to the point where I feel like a stalker. That said, I think Cable's smart enough to stay out of his own way in the timestream.

EXCLUSIVE: Page from "Cable" #2
Do you spend time worrying about time paradoxes; for example, does Cable know his own demise considering he was born after his own death? What are the "rules" you're using for Bishop and Cable's time-travels? Can they go anywhere/anywhen at any time?

The first arc will be defining the rules, and I'm hoping it's not quite what readers expect. With all due respect to Bob Gale, I'm not seeing any "Back to the Future"-style "Great Scott!" moments for Cable. But I will say this: Cable and Bishop do not have the same kind of time-traveling ability. One of them is at a severe disadvantage.

While part of the fun of this series will be the mystery of who this baby is and what she did in Bishop's and Cable's respective futures, do you worry about – for lack of a better term -- the "Lost" factor? In other words, how do you feed the reader enough info to keep them interested without keeping things so mysterious that it feels like the story will never come to a conclusion?

The comparison to "Lost" is interesting; I love it when a huge series of question marks drives a story. But you have to satisfy at least some of those questions along the way, or you're right – you risk hemorrhaging readers/viewers like crazy.

There is an endgame to "Cable;" I promise. In fact, that's one of the first things we discussed when I met with the X-Team last year to plan story arcs: where exactly is this going? It's similar to how I write novels. I know how it begins, and I have a pretty good idea of how it will end; the fun is getting there. Of course, sometimes the ending changes on you.

EXCLUSIVE: Page from "Cable" #2
How familiar were you with Cable before you came on board? Did you jump at the chance to write this series? Or, as much of your writing concerns noir, were you afraid this might be out of your "wheelhouse?"

I've been a big X-fan since 2000, but honestly, Cable wasn't a character I paid much mind to. I missed his heyday in the 1990s, and by the time I came back into the fold, he just wasn't a character I knew enough about. That's changed in the last year, and it's been a blast to catch up. He's my kind of X-Man.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge in writing this series?

Balancing the balls-to-the-wall action with character development. The main players in this series will go through huge changes – and there are big ramifications for the X-universe. But it's important to remember those quieter moments that help define a character – that make you care about the person in the middle of all that action.

Okay, Duane, you seem warmed up now, so let's get to questions from our readers. Let's begin with a couple of questions from Andre4000, who was curious about what future issues hold in store for readers.

1) With all the time-hopping, is there any chance Cable or Bishop will run into future incarnations of Marvel heroes?

Chances are excellent, Andre4000.

2) When will we find out what happened to Bishop after he got his arm bitten off? Including how he got his new shiny arm?

EXCLUSIVE: Page from "Cable" #2
You're making this too easy. Just check out "Cable" #2, which will explain how Bishop re-armed himself, so to speak. One hint: he didn't go to Sears.

Let's move on to Clint, who was also curious about characters Cable might bump into as he travels the future landscape.

Will there be any references to the "Cable & Deadpool" series? For example, will characters who played prominent roles (moreso on Cable's side) appear, such as Irene Merryweather, Domino, Anaconda and the Six Pack?

At least two of the names you mention will pop up in future story arcs. And that's not counting "Cable" and "Clint." (Though if you'd like to appear in a future issue…hey, I'm flexible, as long as you don't mind dying violently.)

As Cable will be seeing old friends, Elixir86 wanted to make sure Bishop has buddies to visit as well.

Any plans for other characters from Bishop's future (such as Fixx or Archer) to appear?

Bishop's going to use every resource he can find to destroy that baby. Would he track down some old pals? I'd say it's very possible.

More questions about known associates of the main characters? Okay, let's have two more from Richard Smith.

EXCLUSIVE: Page from "Cable" #2
1) Is there any chance that Cable will return to the present and rejoin an X-team (one of the X-Men squads, X-Force, etc.) anytime soon?

I can't tell you when, but there is definitely a reunion planned. Boy, is there.

2) Is there any chance of getting Dave Finch to do a few issues of the "Cable" series? His variant cover to issue #2 is one of the best depictions of the character that I've ever seen!

Let me tag in X-Men Executive Editor Axel Alonso here, since he's the man calling the artist shots.

AXEL ALONSO: Hey, we'd love David to draw an arc or issue sometime, if he's interested and his schedule allows it. That said, Ariel Olivetti is our artist for the long-term.

Well, that sort of answers Creyes' following query, but I'll let her ask it anyway.

I love Ariel Olivetti's art! Even though I find it strange that the Messiah baby is about the size of one of Cable's hands, I'm willing to just enjoy its prettiness. How long will he be on the book for now? Is he considered permanent?

Ariel's my main Cable man, and I couldn't be happier. But there are a few issues coming up with guest artists, and the X-editor team will be announcing those soon-ish.

"Cable" #2 variant cover
Concerning the book's main character, Rwsmith (as well as several others) wanted to know more about his abilities.

Does Cable still have his mutant powers? In "X-Men" #200 it was shown that he still has some low-level telekinesis, but I believe his telepathy (which was restored by the mummudrai in "X-Men" #199) went away when his connection to the creature was severed. Is this accurate?

Exactly. No more telepathy, and since Providence has gone the way of the Titanic, there's no bodysliding all over the world, either. He does have a little touch of telekinesis, but nothing to write home about.

If anything, I think the Cable was a bit too powerful, you know? I was just watching "Wizard of Oz" with my four-year-old daughter last week, and I remembered why I loved the Tin Man character so much. It wasn't that he was all metal and could make this cool train whistle sound with his head; it's that he could easily rust, and needed those shots of oil, otherwise he'd freeze up. It's our weaknesses and vulnerabilities that make us interesting.

Our last question comes from Paul N. White-Davis, and it's a doozy. I believe Duane is up to the challenge though.

I don't want to get on top of a soapbox, but I have noticed that, historically, most of the more significant black superhero characters in the Marvel universe usually have some kind of criminal background. Storm was a thief in Egypt, Falcon was gang member, the new Night Thrasher is a former criminal, Luke Cage got his powers while in prison (albeit wrongfully accused). The rare exceptions were the Black Panther and Bishop of the X-Men.

"Cable" #3 on sale in May
"X-Men" is, hands-down, my favorite comic book. Bishop was the first black male X-Man. I liked the fact that he came from a no-nonsense background as a soldier/policeman. He even gained international law enforcement credentials with the X-Treme X-Men and local credentials while working for the NYPD and the O.N.E. Now, with "Messiah CompleX," he has been made into a traitor of the X-Men, an attempted assassin of a baby and the murderer of Professor Xavier – the man he reveres.

Why does it seem that Marvel feels the need to put criminal backgrounds on their black superheroes? Or why does it seem that way, at least?

Well, Paul, here's the interesting thing about Lucas Bishop: I don't think he's the bad guy. That's what we're going to explore in the first arc ("War Baby") as well as the story that immediately follows. If you look at the situation from Bishop's point of view, he's a goddamned hero. And he's the most appealing kind of hero: one who is willing to risk everything for something he believes is right, even when everyone else considers him a traitor.

One more thing: Bishop might very well be right!

As for Bishop shooting Professor X… well, don't forget, that was an oopsie moment. He was gunning for the baby. So if you want to blame anyone, blame the kid. See? She's evil already….

Let your friends know – Bishop was right! Thanks Duane!

That concludes this week's X-travaganza, but we'll be back with more shenanigans in seven days. We will have another newcomer to the X-POSITION experience joining us: writer Jason Aaron, who is currently treating fans to the "Get Mystique" arc of "Wolverine." Issue #63 of "Wolverine" is in stores tomorrow, March 12, which should assist you in the crafting of your questions. As usual, email us your ponderings and musings, and I'll try to get them answered for you.

Till then…snikt!

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